The reservoir's historic structures & ecosystems are an opportunity to create a unique environmental education center for our children & their future.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wilderness at the edge of Bushwick

Katharine Jose of "Capital New York" wrote a really good piece about the reservoir and the struggle to preserve it:


Wilderness at the edge of Bushwick
By Katharine Jose
9:45 am Sep. 28, 2010

When something is left alone in New York, it usually falls apart, like Admiral's Row at the Brooklyn Navy Yards, or the shabby detritus of the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona-Park, and becomes something less than it was before. There's a place on the border of Brooklyn and Queens where neglect has led to something good, something bigger than the sum of the parts that were left.

On a 50-acre piece of land on the border between Brooklyn and Queens there is a three-basin reservoir that was once part of the Brooklyn water-supply system, and that hasn't been touched at all in more than 20 years, though it has been neglected for far longer. Inside the chain-link fence around it is an impossible landscape: thick forest, wet meadows, a small lake ringed with reeds; the Ridgewood Reservoir has been restoring itself to its original state for decades. From the one-and-a-quarter-mile path around the basins, the place smells, sounds and looks like the marshes on the coast of New England. And it's virtually unknown.

It's an unlikely secret, considering it is located just across Vermont Place from the large and popular Highland Park. Construction on the first two basins of the reservoir, as a place to collect water flowing from streams in Queens and on Long Island, began in 1856. A third basin was added later, but when Brooklyn joined Manhattan to become part of New York City in 1898, the borough had access to a superior water supply, from the Croton Reservoir in Westchester. The last time the Ridgewood Reservoir was used to store water was during a major drought in 1965. The outer basins were drained in 1989, and it has essentially been sitting there, right next to the Interboro (now Jackie Robinson) Parkway.

In the last five years or so, and particularly since the Bloomberg administration's PlaNYC was introduced in 2007, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has been testing out human-reclamation plans, the most recent of which would fill in one of the basins in order to build baseball fields. For the relatively few people who live nearby, for hikers and birders and people who run or walk their dogs on the path around the reservoir, the idea of disturbing the site in the service of something so mundane is an unmitigated travesty.


Read the entire article here.

Send us an email

No comments: